Welsh Wool Industry Content Page

Welsh Wool Industry Content Page

Wool has long been used as a valuable material, most commonly known for its use in fabric and clothing production. Its soft texture and high insulating properties have meant it is an ideal natural material for warm clothing such as jumpers, suits, hats and gloves.

As with any product however, to help improve the sustainability of this natural resource, where it is sourced from should be considered. Wales has one of the highest concentrations of sheep farming in the world, with a number of sheep to human ratio only second to New Zealand. Sheep farming in the UK, especially Wales, is driven by lamb meat production. Wool is produced often as a by-product of the lamb industry as the sheep are shorn. Sheep wool is often undervalued and considered a waste product due to its low financial value to the farmer as a result of the low value the fabric industry places upon it with increasing presence of lower cost synthetic materials such as polyester and nylon. Finding ways to generate more value from sheep fleece, will help support the Welsh sheep farming industry. It was this desire to utilise this under-valued natural material and an understanding of its beneficial properties that led CaplinTec to be setup in 2023.   


Introduction to wool

Wool is sustainable in every way, from the environmental impact to the welfare of the sheep. Sheep do not shed wool as humans do our hair and so they are shorn at least once a year, typically around June, for welfare reasons to prevent them getting too hot. The fleece then gradually regrows until the sheep is then sheared again the following year. This means that the wool material is a natural and abundantly sustainable resource.     

Welsh wool is used across a range of products with the wool fibres utilised in materials from clothing to bedding, carpets and insultation. Wool offers many technical and ecological benefits, well known for its heat retaining properties and soft texture. It also has the benefit of being biodegradable, so at the end of its use life disposal does not leave a long environmental cost.


Introduction to wool in Wales

 There are over 11 million sheep in Wales, that is nearly 4 sheep per human with Wales current human population of 3.1 million people.

For centuries the sheep industry has been an important driver for Wales’ rural economy and in turn has shaped it communities. Sheep farming in Wales dates back to prehistoric times, where the green valleys of Wales provided an ideal area to graze sheep. Originally sheep in Wales were thought to be farmed mostly for wool and milk, and not the Welsh lamb meat industry which now drives Welsh sheep farming. The Welsh wool industry was once the most important and widespread of industries in Wales for both domestic and international trade. Whilst the Welsh wool industry went into decline through the 20th Century, wool and sheep farming remains important for both the local rural economy with 20% of Welsh agricultural income coming from the sheep industry and beyond that the British wool industry with 33% of all British wool coming from sheep faring in Wales.

A detailed history of the Welsh wool industry and the sheep farming which supported it can be found at the National Wool Museum located in Dre-fach Felindre, Camarthenshire.


The Welsh Wool Alliance

Founded in 2022, the Welsh Wool Alliance is not for profit organisation aiming to bring together all parts of the Welsh wool industry to promote the industry. Wales has a strong wool heritage and the Welsh Wool Alliance aims to support the awareness of this natural, sustainable material, its farmers, producers and users. CaplinTec and Andermatt are proud supporters of the Welsh Wool Alliance, and the organisations logo can be seen on the packaging identifying the products as made from wool in Wales.


History of wool.

The raising of sheep on the grass covered valleys of Wales has been carried out since prehistorical times. It wasn’t until the 12th Century however that the wool trade became important to the Welsh economy. By the time of the Industrial Revolution, manufacturing of wool had become one of Wales main industries. Mills were built in the grass laden valleys near to rivers which powered the increasing use of tools and mechanisation in the wool industry. Towns then grew around the mills, with those such as Welshpool, Newtown and LLanidloes owing their growth to the Welsh wool mills. These wool mills were responsible for employing thousands in the various stages of converting sheep fleece into wool fabrics from weavers and spinners to dyers and tailors.

At its peak there were more than 300 wool mills producing material from the sheep grazing the grassland on the surrounding Welsh hills. Through the 20th Century the the Welsh wool industry went into decline due to slower adoption of technology and mechanisation than in parts of England. There are now only around nine commercial wool mills in Wales supporting the Welsh wool producing industry

Despite the decline of the Welsh wool industry sheep farming remains a central part of Welsh farming. Wales is now one of the worlds leading producers of high quality lamb both in terms of meat quality due to the environment it is reared but also their globally leading animal welfare standards.


Creating more value from sheep fleece

As well as the wool created from sheep fleece, there are other components to it which contribute towards the protection it offers a sheep. Fleece contains a number of waxes and oils which give it its water proofing characteristics. Andermatt have partnered with CaplinTec to develop product based on lanolin, a wax which is extracted from sheep fleece. With their offices and production site in Caerwys in North Wales, CaplinTec source and manufacture close to the materials original source. This product development program not only aims to manufacture more sustainable products, but also produce them with as little environmental footprint as possible.

Established in 2023, the expert knowledge of formulation chemistry within the CaplinTec team is finding novel ways to use lanolin and other oils and waxes removed from the sheep fleece to manufacture more sustainable products.

  • Lanolin

Purified pharmaceutical grade lanolin, extracted from sheep fleece. Supplied as either small and convenient easy to use tins and pots, or in bulk for use as a natural ingredient in various cosmetic products.


  • EWE STOP RUST Garden Tools

Formulated into a range of products to lubricate and protect garden tools against rust. The sprayable EWE STOP RUST 30ml or larger 250 ml bottle is an environmentally friendly and more sustainable alternative to petroleum oil derived lubricants and protection. The oil based formulation binds to the surface of the metal gardening tools, forming a barrier against moisture which can cause the garden tools to rust. 

Whilst wool is known to be a natural barrier deterrent for slugs and snail which they do not like to travel across, pure wool absorbs lots of water and can smell as it degrades. EWE STOP SLUGS uses the lanolin part of the sheep fleece, which is the reason slugs and snails don’t walk across wool, in its pure form to create a dry pellet which has the deterrent effect of wool only without the smell. 

What is the Welsh Wool Alliance?

The Welsh Wool Alliance is a non-profit organisation who's membership spans the Welsh wool industry from sheep farmers to manufacturers of wool-containing products. The Welsh Wool Alliance aim to promote the use of wool 


Why do Andermatt products have the Welsh Wool Alliance logo on the label?

Andermatt are proud supporters of the Welsh Wool Alliance and share their belief that local produce should be championed. Products such as EWE STOP RUST garden tool spray , EWE STOP RUST Tool cleaning paste and Lanolin which are made from wool in Wales proudly carry their logo to show that it is made from sheep fleece in Wales.